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March 17, 1956


JAMA. 1956;160(11):923-927. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02960460001001

• Cancer must be expected to increase in importance as a medical problem, not only because of the changing character of the population but also because silent and subclinical forms of cancer are being recognized and the underreporting of cancer in the past is being corrected.

The 225,000 deaths per year now ascribed to cancer in the United States are offset by an estimated 23,000 cures. Early diagnosis and prompt, effective treatment by all known accepted methods constitute our only means of combating this disease. The hope for more diagnoses in the early stages rests especially on the fact that cancer in about half the cases begins at sites accessible to direct examination; examples are the female breast (21.7% of all cancer in women) and the skin (15.4% of all cancer in men).

The alert and thorough physician is still the indispensable factor in cancer control, but his responsibility extends beyond prevention and cure. The care of apparently incurable patients is also a responsibility of the profession. The thousands of patients in whom wide metastases make cure apparently hopeless need palliative and supportive therapy. Meanwhile, fatalism and fear must be dissipated by a more aggressive and confident attack on this devastating disease.